Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lincoln's Faith

The gray zone between a spiritual private life and a religion-infused political life is an old, uncomfortable place. As David Brooks describes in a recent piece, Lincoln's bold Emancipation was fueled by faith, in a man who mostly guided by reason.


Lincoln was neither a scoffer nor a guy who could talk directly to God. Instead, he wrestled with faith, longing to be more religious, but never getting there.

Today, a lot of us are stuck in Lincoln's land. We reject the bland relativism of the militant secularists. We reject the smug ignorance of, say, a Robert Kuttner, who recently argued that the culture war is a contest between enlightened reason and dogmatic absolutism. But neither can we share the conviction of the orthodox believers, like the new pope, who find maximum freedom in obedience to eternal truth. We're a little nervous about the perfectionism that often infects evangelical politics, the rush to crash through procedural checks and balances in order to reach the point of maximum moral correctness.

Those of us stuck here in this wrestling-with-faith world find Lincoln to be our guide and navigator. Lincoln had enough firm conviction to lead a great moral crusade, but his zeal was tempered by doubt, and his governing style was dispassionate...

Lincoln's core lesson is that while the faithful and the faithless go at each other in their symbiotic culture war, those of us trapped wrestling with faith are not without the means to get up and lead.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home